Denny McLain, Beer, Dinosaurs, and Jean-Paul Sartre

The warm-up “trash bag” era.

“It poured a caramel, amber, clear color with five fingers of khaki, frothy head, which settled nicely. Lots of bubbles streaming up from the bottom of the glass. Sporadic spots of lacing along the sides of the glass. Average-to-above average retention on the top all the way down.” 

Beer reviews have always tickled me as I’ve always enjoyed the attention to detail and the ability to pick out the minutiae (whether real or imagined) in any reviewer’s uppity “passion project.” Denny McLain was a person that I never fancied as a beer review kind of guy. In fact, if he was going to give a beer review it might sound something like the below quote:

“It’s best ice cold, and after the first 2 who gives a damn about character anyway.” 

McLain enjoyed the money, adulation and trappings of being a 30 game winner, and has also endured a humbling 6 years in prison for embezzlement, mail fraud and conspiracy. Life is but a dream, I suppose. At some point in our lives we all must confront these four word sentences…Why am I here? Where am I going? What does it mean? I think McLain deserves admiration for sending these existential thoughts straight to hell after ripping off its balls and giving philosophy the finger, or as Sartre would explain it, “existing without justification, independently, and of the for-itself.”

Sometimes over-thinking can be the bane of anyone’s existence. I just recently read a wonderful theory regarding the asteroid that landed in Mexico some 66 million years ago, in essence, wiping out 80 percent of the life on earth. The theory states that if the asteroid had landed 5 minutes earlier or 5 minutes later, or even had a slightly different trajectory (we’re talking feet here) then dinosaurs would most certainly still rule the earth giving mammals no opportunity to thrive. You wouldn’t exist. The crap computer that I am typing on now wouldn’t exist. This was confounding to me because I had laid in my bed at times trying to wrap my head around the astronomical odds of surviving during the sperm/egg process and now the chances of being “me” were so large I would have to write the number down from here and the moon and back over a trillion times. (This is a made-up equation by the way, as you may or may not know…I am no scientist.)

Of course, at this moment in time most people in the sanctimonious world of baseball blogging are scratching their heads thinking, “what the fuck is this guy going on about?”– their hubris keeping them from thinking about not much more than grown men gripping hard wood, fingering balls and embracing over-the-top, nauseating Boomer nostalgia. It probably took you longer to read this essay than the time McLain was with the Athletics–all of 5 horribly pitched games towards the end of his career in 1972 before being shoved through the door of obscurity with Charlie Finley’s foot planted firmly up his ass. That’s what the fuck I’m talking about.

6 thoughts on “Denny McLain, Beer, Dinosaurs, and Jean-Paul Sartre

  1. thegreataardvark

    Jean Paul Sartre & Denny McLain? Ah but of course!

    From the Penthouse to the Shithouse, Denny McLain has been there. Whether it is winning 30 games (or losing 20!) or doing prison time – man must have find meaning
    in his life.

    ‘Only in games is Man truly free, because he is the creator, having made and thus understanding the rules.” So in games Man understands the meaning of his endeavors and his individual significance, something we seem to struggle with in the real world.

    Row, row, row your boat life is………perhaps a game? The fact remains winning always trumps losing. When your winning you enjoy life, when losing all the questioning begins: What am I doing here…and how can I escape!

      1. thegreataardvark

        I believe it may have been Sartre himself. I thought I had read it in one of his books, but despite a tireless search I couldn’t find it. Maybe it was Nietzche?

        However at this point I prefer to believe it may have been the effect of being in a psychological abyss after losing 20 games for Billy Martin shortly after reading Sartre’s quote many years ago. This apparently has caused it to morph into a paraphrase of the original.

  2. Bruce Thiesen

    Love it. Great post. McLain is a relic of baseball past. Showed up late to all star game in Washington DC because of dentist appointment. Left immediately after pitching in his own plane. Flew it over the stadium and did a buzz over the game. Try imagining any of that in 2015 game.

    1. Gary Trujillo Post author

      I can’t image it! Admittedly, the first thing that popped into my mind after reading this was ex Athletics pitcher Cory Lidle accidentally flying his plane into a building in NYC.


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